Personal Netflix Analytics

Via Recomendo, a pointer to the Netflix page that shows you your entire viewing history, back the the very opening of your account.

This, in turn, led me to this Chrome extension, which allows the data to be exported as CSV or JSON (in my use of the extension the CSV exported without line endings, so to get a usable CSV I had to export as JSON and then convert JSON to CSV).

Our family’s viewing history goes back to September 22, 2010 when the first thing we watched on Netflix was the 2002 Hugh Grant film About a Boy. Although, because the export also tells us where we left off, I see that we only watched the first 43 minutes of the film, likely because we’d already seen it before.

Total Hours Streamed

Since that first movie, we’ve streamed an additional 2,640 movies and TV episodes across the members of our family.

We’ve streamed a total of 1,561 hours from movies and TV shows that, had we watched all of each, would have meant watching 2,262 hours; so our “show completion rate” is 69%.

1,561 hours is 65 full days of streaming. More than two months out of 8 years, or 2% of all the hours and a shockingly high percentage of the “TV watching hours” spent outside of work and school.

The Office

It turns out that these numbers aren’t a complete picture of Netflix streaming time, as when an episode or movie has been watched more than once only the most recent viewing is displayed. As Catherine can attest, I’m an occasionally compulsive watcher of the U.S. version of The Office and I’ve watched the entire series through multiple times, but my viewing history “only” shows 192 episodes watched (all of them) once.

While this aberration means I can’t get a complete picture of the portion of our family life given over to Netflix, I can get a picture of what episodes of The Office I find the most rewatchable.

For example, I haven’t watched season 2’s “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” episode since April 17, 2014, but I watched “The Injury,” from the same season, as recently as this week.

Here’s all 192 episodes by reverse chronological order of when I last watched them, which is a rough measure of their popularity (to me):

Season 2: "The Injury"                          2018-05-07
Season 1: "Diversity Day"                       2018-04-05
Season 1: "Pilot"                               2018-04-05
Season 1: "Health Care"                         2018-04-05
Season 9: "A.A.R.M"                             2018-04-05
Season 9: "Livin' the Dream"                    2018-02-08
Season 9: "Junior Salesman"                     2018-02-07
Season 8: "Turf War"                            2018-02-05
Season 8: "Pool Party"                          2018-02-02
Season 7: "WUPHF.com"                           2018-02-02
Season 4: "The Deposition"                      2018-02-02
Season 3: "Beach Games"                         2018-01-31
Season 3: "Cocktails"                           2018-01-29
Season 3: "The Return"                          2018-01-28
Season 3: "Traveling Salesmen"                  2018-01-03
Season 3: "The Convict"                         2017-12-17
Season 3: "The Merger"                          2017-12-06
Season 3: "Branch Closing"                      2017-12-05
Season 3: "Diwali"                              2017-12-04
Season 2: "Sexual Harassment"                   2017-12-01
Season 5: "The Duel"                            2017-11-29
Season 7: "Nepotism"                            2017-11-28
Season 6: "Delivery: Part 2"                    2017-11-27
Season 6: "The Banker"                          2017-11-27
Season 5: "Michael Scott Paper Company"         2017-11-24
Season 5: "Stress Relief: Part 1"               2017-11-23
Season 5: "Casual Friday"                       2017-11-21
Season 4: "Fun Run"                             2017-11-14
Season 3: "The Job"                             2017-11-14
Season 4: "Dunder Mifflin Infinity"             2017-11-13
Season 9: "Paper Airplane"                      2017-08-10
Season 9: "Stairmageddon"                       2017-08-09
Season 9: "Promos"                              2017-08-07
Season 9: "Moving On"                           2017-08-06
Season 9: "Couple's Discount"                   2017-08-04
Season 9: "Vandalism"                           2017-08-02
Season 9: "Customer Loyalty"                    2017-07-30
Season 9: "Suit Warehouse"                      2017-07-30
Season 9: "The Whale"                           2017-07-29
Season 9: "Andy's Ancestry"                     2017-07-29
Season 9: "Roy's Wedding"                       2017-07-23
Season 9: "New Guys"                            2017-07-23
Season 8: "Free Family Portrait Studio"         2017-07-23
Season 8: "Fundraiser"                          2017-07-22
Season 8: "Angry Andy"                          2017-07-17
Season 8: "Welcome Party"                       2017-07-11
Season 8: "Lotto"                               2017-07-09
Season 8: "The Incentive"                       2017-07-09
Season 8: "The List"                            2017-07-09
Season 7: "Search Committee: Part 2"            2017-07-08
Season 7: "Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager" 2017-07-08
Season 7: "Todd Packer"                         2017-07-08
Season 7: "Threat Level Midnight"               2017-07-07
Season 7: "The Seminar"                         2017-07-06
Season 7: "Classy Christmas: Part 1"            2017-07-06
Season 7: "China"                               2017-07-06
Season 7: "Viewing Party"                       2017-07-01
Season 7: "Christening"                         2017-07-01
Season 7: "Costume Contest"                     2017-06-30
Season 7: "The Sting"                           2017-06-30
Season 7: "Sex Ed"                              2017-06-30
Season 7: "Andy's Play"                         2017-06-30
Season 7: "Counseling"                          2017-06-30
Season 6: "Whistleblower"                       2017-06-29
Season 6: "The Chump"                           2017-06-28
Season 6: "The Cover-Up"                        2017-06-28
Season 6: "Body Language"                       2017-06-28
Season 6: "Secretary's Day"                     2017-06-13
Season 6: "Happy Hour"                          2017-06-13
Season 6: "New Leads"                           2017-06-12
Season 6: "St. Patrick's Day"                   2017-06-11
Season 6: "Delivery: Part 1"                    2017-06-11
Season 6: "Manager and the Salesman"            2017-06-11
Season 6: "Sabre"                               2017-06-09
Season 6: "Secret Santa"                        2017-06-07
Season 6: "Scott's Tots"                        2017-06-07
Season 6: "Shareholder Meeting"                 2017-06-07
Season 6: "Murder"                              2017-06-05
Season 6: "Double Date"                         2017-06-02
Season 6: "Koi Pond"                            2017-06-02
Season 6: "Mafia"                               2017-05-31
Season 6: "Niagara: Part 2"                     2017-05-30
Season 6: "Niagara: Part 1"                     2017-05-30
Season 6: "The Promotion"                       2017-05-29
Season 6: "The Meeting"                         2017-05-28
Season 6: "Gossip"                              2017-05-27
Season 5: "Blood Drive"                         2017-05-27
Season 5: "Lecture Circuit: Part 2"             2017-05-26
Season 3: "Grief Counseling"                    2017-05-26
Season 3: "The Coup"                            2017-05-12
Season 2: "Conflict Resolution"                 2017-04-13
Season 2: "Valentine's Day"                     2017-04-13
Season 2: "The Carpet"                          2017-04-09
Season 2: "The Secret"                          2017-04-03
Season 1: "Basketball"                          2017-03-28
Season 1: "The Alliance"                        2017-03-06
Season 4: "Dinner Party"                        2017-02-09
Season 5: "Employee Transfer"                   2017-02-09
Season 5: "Baby Shower"                         2017-02-08
Season 5: "Business Ethics"                     2017-02-07
Season 5: "Weight Loss: Part 2"                 2017-02-03
Season 5: "Weight Loss: Part 1"                 2017-02-01
Season 4: "Goodbye, Toby"                       2017-01-24
Season 4: "Job Fair"                            2017-01-24
Season 4: "Did I Stutter"                       2017-01-18
Season 3: "Women's Appreciation"                2017-01-18
Season 3: "Product Recall"                      2017-01-17
Season 3: "Safety Training"                     2017-01-16
Season 3: "The Negotiation"                     2017-01-16
Season 3: "Business School"                     2017-01-16
Season 3: "Phyllis's Wedding"                   2017-01-14
Season 3: "Ben Franklin"                        2017-01-14
Season 3: "Initiation"                          2017-01-13
Season 2: "Casino Night"                        2017-01-13
Season 4: "Night Out"                           2017-01-08
Season 4: "Branch Wars"                         2017-01-02
Season 4: "Money"                               2016-12-23
Season 4: "Launch Party"                        2016-12-22
Season 2: "Boys and Girls"                      2016-12-15
Season 9: "Finale"                              2016-12-08
Season 9: "The Target"                          2016-12-05
Season 9: "The Boat"                            2016-12-04
Season 9: "Here Comes Treble"                   2016-12-04
Season 9: "Work Bus"                            2016-12-04
Season 8: "Test the Store"                      2016-11-30
Season 8: "After Hours"                         2016-11-30
Season 8: "Special Project"                     2016-11-29
Season 8: "Jury Duty"                           2016-11-28
Season 8: "Trivia"                              2016-11-21
Season 8: "Spooked"                             2016-11-21
Season 8: "Garden Party"                        2016-11-21
Season 7: "Search Committee: Part 1"            2016-11-19
Season 7: "The Inner Circle"                    2016-11-13
Season 7: "Michael's Last Dundies"              2016-11-11
Season 7: "Training Day"                        2016-11-11
Season 7: "Garage Sale"                         2016-11-09
Season 7: "PDA"                                 2016-11-07
Season 7: "The Search"                          2016-11-06
Season 7: "Ultimatum"                           2016-11-06
Season 7: "Classy Christmas: Part 2"            2016-11-06
Season 5: "The Surplus"                         2016-10-29
Season 5: "Frame Toby"                          2016-10-28
Season 5: "Business Trip"                       2016-10-28
Season 5: "Customer Survey"                     2016-10-26
Season 5: "Crime Aid"                           2016-10-24
Season 4: "The Chair Model"                     2016-10-18
Season 4: "Local Ad"                            2016-10-17
Season 3: "Back from Vacation"                  2016-09-16
Season 3: "A Benihana Christmas"                2016-09-16
Season 3: "The Convention"                      2016-09-11
Season 3: "Gay Witch Hunt"                      2016-09-11
Season 2: "Performance Review"                  2016-09-10
Season 2: "The Client"                          2016-09-10
Season 2: "The Fight"                           2016-09-10
Season 2: "Halloween"                           2016-09-10
Season 2: "The Fire"                            2016-09-09
Season 2: "Office Olympics"                     2016-09-07
Season 2: "The Dundies"                         2016-09-06
Season 1: "Hot Girl"                            2016-09-04
Season 8: "Christmas Wishes"                    2016-08-22
Season 8: "Mrs. California"                     2016-08-21
Season 8: "Gettysburg"                          2016-08-20
Season 8: "Pam's Replacement"                   2016-08-15
Season 8: "Doomsday"                            2016-08-11
Season 2: "Email Surveillance"                  2016-06-25
Season 6: "The Lover"                           2016-05-24
Season 8: "Last Day in Florida"                 2016-01-23
Season 8: "Tallahassee"                         2016-01-12
Season 9: "The Farm"                            2015-11-24
Season 9: "Lice"                                2015-11-22
Season 9: "Dwight Christmas"                    2015-11-22
Season 7: "Goodbye, Michael"                    2015-11-09
Season 5: "Moroccan Christmas"                  2015-10-04
Season 2: "Drug Testing"                        2015-09-28
Season 2: "Michael's Birthday"                  2015-09-27
Season 2: "Dwight's Speech"                     2015-09-21
Season 2: "Booze Cruise"                        2015-09-17
Season 2: "Christmas Party"                     2015-09-15
Season 5: "Company Picnic"                      2015-09-04
Season 5: "Cafe Disco"                          2015-09-04
Season 5: "Broke"                               2015-09-01
Season 5: "Heavy Competition"                   2015-09-01
Season 5: "Dream Team"                          2015-08-30
Season 5: "Two Weeks"                           2015-08-28
Season 5: "New Boss"                            2015-08-28
Season 5: "Golden Ticket"                       2015-08-28
Season 5: "Lecture Circuit: Part 1"             2015-08-26
Season 5: "Stress Relief: Part 2"               2015-08-26
Season 5: "Prince Family Paper"                 2015-08-26
Season 4: "Survivor Man"                        2015-08-18
Season 8: "Get the Girl"                        2015-07-10
Season 2: "Take Your Daughter to Work Day"      2014-04-17

Series Watched

We’ve watched at least part of 351 TV series on Netflix over the years, alphabetically from A Bit of Fry and Laurie to You Bet Your Life. The top 25 series, by number of episodes watched, are:

 192 The Office (U.S.)
 122 The West Wing
  75 Community
  69 iCarly
  66 Weeds
  49 Shark Tank
  38 White Collar
  34 Love
  34 Episodes
  28 Portlandia
  28 Mad Men
  26 The Big C
  26 Life Unexpected
  21 The Fairly OddParents
  21 Monarch of the Glen
  21 Doc Martin
  20 Wreck Trek
  20 The Crown
  20 Master of None
  20 Cuckoo
  19 Orange Is the New Black
  19 Black Mirror
  18 Kingdom
  18 Boss
  18 Black Books

As you can tell from browsing that list, some of these are my obsessions (The Office, The West Wing, Weeds, Mad Men), some of them are Oliver’s, and some are Catherine’s. I take no responsibility for the presence of Monarch of the Glen on the list.

Netflix Country Switching

Back in the good old days, it was possible to “country switch” your Netflix by using a VPN-like service, increasing the breadth of the content available to include that from other countries. We haven’t been able to do this since 2016, but we did it a lot before Netflix made this effectively impossible. Here’s a breakdown by “Netflix service country” of streams watched (the two letter country code is the second column):

1243 CA
1051 US
 151 GB
  54 NO
  36 IE
  24 NL
  21 SE
  19 BR
  12 DK
   9 MX
   4 ZZ
   4 AR
   3 JP
   3 AU
   2 NZ
   1 IN
   1 FR
   1 CO
   1 CH
   1 BE

Back in the day I watched a lot of Norwegian crime dramas, which is why it gets the 4th position; not being able to do that is the thing I miss the most about the country-switching powers we once had.

Device Type

The export includes a “device type” column, which I haven’t been able to find a dictionary for, but which I assume reflects what device–computer, phone, set-top box, etc.–the stream was watched on; our breakdown is (streams watched following by device type code):

2083 345
 325 272
  67 447
  31 419
  28 1812
  22 -1
  17 14
  11 1725
  11 1222
   9 169
   8 769
   6 1080
   5 1476
   4 770
   4 245
   3 273
   2 198
   2 1008
   1 714
   1 1416
   1 1224

I’m certain that device code “345” is “Nintendo Wii app,” as that’s where we watch the majority of our streams; code “272” is likely the web-based player for Mac or the iPad app, as those would be the two next-most-popular methods in our family.

What does this mean?

There’s no doubt that Netflix has dramatically changed our family’s video-viewing life. It’s freed us from the tyranny of the fixed TV schedule, and dramatically increased the depth and breadth of movies and TV we have available to us.

But there’s also no doubt that it’s increased the amount of time that we spend in front of screens, it’s changed our viewing practice from a social to an individual activity, and, perhaps, made us more isolated from each other in the process. Television viewing used to be about social compromise; now it’s not.

The availability of personal viewing analytics like this from Netflix, even if you do have to do a little hacking to export and analyze them, provides a way to step back and take a deep breath and ponder the degree to which Netflix improves and degrades our life. And it’s not a simple calculus: do I need to watch The Office pilot again? Wouldn’t that time be better spent learning Chinese, teaching Oliver to ride a bike, or volunteering for Greenpeace? But, then again, watching The Office pilot again can help me wind down for the day, get my mind off of swirling complexities for a time; it can be well-worn comfort in a storm.

YouTube introduced a new “Remind me to take a break” feature in its Android app this week:

Screen shot of YouTube app's new Remind me to take a break setting

The feature allows me to have the app remind me after an amount of time of my choosing to take a break.

I think this kind of feature will be something we see increasingly necessary to help us mediate our relationships with our digital devices; they need not be hard limits: simple elements to help us gain a peripheral awareness of what we’re spending time doing (and, by implication, not doing) will, I think, prove invaluable.

Having access to our own analytics, in the way that Netflix’s platform affords, gives us the freedom to develop these elements ourselves, to cater to our own desires to mitigate and not simply to content providers’ interest in maintaining our gaze.

Mock up of a Do you really need to watch The Office right now dialog box.

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